Happy Thanksgiving, from the Emergency Room


My fever reached 104 degrees on Thanksgiving, 2014. At 105 degrees, brain damage kicks in, so I felt a hospital visit made sense. But the General Practitioners office was closed on Thanksgiving, and the Emergency Room felt unnecessary, especially after 600 milligrams of Ibuprofen brought my fever down to 101 degrees, enough to help me sleep.

I was visiting family for the holiday, so when my dad texted me the next morning at 5:30am to see how I was doing, he insisted we visit a doctor because he was feeling sick, too. So we drove down town, filled out some paperwork, and we were called into the office. A nurse took our vitals, and everything was fine. But I still had a small fever and a flight to catch the next day, so when our doctor arrived, he suggested steroids and antibiotics for the two of us, to expedite the healing process. My dad and I were administered shots in our left and right butt cheeks, which we thought was funny -- some quality father and son bonding. But after 30 seconds, I started feeling strange... 

I moved toward the sink to vomit, but before I could, the doctor had me laying down with an icepack on my forehead. He assured me it was normal to feel sick after seeing needles. But I disputed, assuring him this wasn't the case. In fact, I've always felt a macabre sense of pleasure from needle injections, a kind of admiration for the marvels of modern science. He politely smiled and left me to rest, probably resisting the urge to slap me... Just when I thought I was out of the woods, some new symptoms popped up. Sneezes, about ten in a row, followed by some eye irritation, and a feeling of pins and needles covering my body. When the doctor returned, he was met with a pair of blood shot eyes. So he took my vitals, and discovered a drop in blood pressure at 70/50 (considered dangerously low). I began to feel cold, my body shivered, and my teeth clattered while I felt the energy being sucked out of me. The nurses went for an IV, and I mentioned how itchy I felt. So my shirt was lifted, and we discovered a spreading case of bright red hives, which slowly covered me from head to toe. But none of this felt real, until my wind pipe closed up, and I found it hard to breathe...

How could this happen to me! I've never been allergic to anything in my life. Nor my mom, dad, or siblings. It should not have been written into my genetic code! My body was betraying me, and the reaction evoked some frightening images which I didn't care to think about. So I laid quietly, shivering and itching and focusing on my breath, with the aid of an oxygen unit that was strapped to my face. In the meantime, I was given an IV and shot up with Epinephrin, which sent my heart racing and opened up my windpipe. But every other symptom persisted, and before I knew it, an ambulance was escorting me to the ER.

When we arrived at the hospital, I noticed my fingers turn blue just before I was given a large dose of Diphenhydramine, which knocked me out cold. When I woke up, an hour later, to the face of a relived father, and a stoic doctor, I knew I was in the clear. Waking up this way gave the whole experience a dream like quality. Like waking from a nightmare brings you an overwhelming sense of relief. And for that, I'm grateful.

Happy belated Thanksgiving.